White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned on Wednesday following allegations from both of his ex-wives that he physically and emotionally abused them.
In a statement confirming his departure, Porter denied the allegations.
“These outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign,” Porter said. “My commitment to public service speaks for itself. I have always put duty to country first and treated others with respect. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Trump Administration and will seek to ensure a smooth transition when I leave the White House.”
The allegations first surfaced in interviews with the Daily Mail. Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, told the Daily Mail in an interview published Tuesday that Porter verbally abused her and once dragged her from the shower by her shoulders. On Wednesday, Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, came forward in an interview with the Daily Mail. She accused Porter of punching her and provided a photo of her with a black eye.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in the daily press briefing that Porter has resigned, but that he will not be leaving his role immediately in order to help with the transition. She would not confirm the status of Porter’s security clearance.
Sanders said that Porter’s resignation was “a personal decision that Rob made, and one that he was not pressured to do, but one that he made on his own.”
When the White House confirmed Porter’s resignation, the administration also circulated statements from several individuals defending Porter’s character and work ethic.
“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him,” chief of staff John Kelly said in a statement.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Porter’s former boss, previously praised Porter in a Tuesday night statement after the allegations first surfaced. When Porter announced his resignation on Wednesday, Hatch issued a new statement condemning domestic violence.
“I am heartbroken by today’s allegations. In every interaction I’ve had with Rob, he has been courteous, professional, and respectful. My staff loved him and he was a trusted advisor,” Hatch said in a Wednesday afternoon statement. “I do not know the details of Rob’s personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable. I am praying for Rob and those involved.”
Kelly urged Porter to stay in his position at the White House after the allegations became public, according to reports from the Washington Post and Axios.
Both of Porter’s ex-wives told the Intercept that they told the FBI that Porter abused them in interviews for his security clearance. Kelly was aware of a 2010 protective order Willoughby obtained against Porter and the order kept Porter from obtaining a full security clearance, a senior administration official told Politico.
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